Trying to Solve Problems Yourself

Sometimes problems can be resolved with some “front end” effort on your own behalf, and ombuds offices believe that it is important to help community members navigate the system on their own if they are able to do so.  Please consider the following when dealing with university offices.  If you don't succeed, feel free to call the Ombuds Office at (530) 219-6750 for additional options or information.

  • Don’t be bashful about calling university offices for help, and don't be afraid to ask questions.  When asking, seek to understand, not to challenge.
  • Be prepared.  Write down your questions before contacting a university office.  Have all the information and documentation available that you may need in your discussion.
  • Clarify your own thinking:  What outcomes do you want?  Are there other options that may be acceptable, even if not your first choice?
  • Be pleasant.  Treat university employees as you like to be treated.  Getting angry or rude will not resolve your problem.  It may only confuse the real issues.
  • Keep good records and take notes.  Ask for the names and titles of employees you talk with, and note the date of the conversation.  Save all your letters and receipts.  Ask the person or office to help you understand why they acted as they did.  Ask employees to identify the rules, policies, or laws that governed their actions.  Ask for copies.
  • Talk to the right people.  The first person you meet may not make or be able to change policy.  If you cannot resolve the matter, ask to talk with a supervisor.  Ask questions until you understand what happened and why.
  • Read carefully all information available to you.  Many university decisions may be appealed, but there are often specific criteria and deadlines.  Be sure to follow appeal rules and meet deadlines.

(Adapted from “Before You Call” by Laurie McCann, University of California, Santa Cruz.  Used with permission.)

Medical Center
154 Haven Avenue.
Room 412
Tel: (212) 304-7026

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
61 Route 9W
Tel: (212) 854-1234

Morningside Heights
660 Schermerhorn Extension, Mail Code 5558
1200 Amsterdam Avenue.
Tel: (212) 854-1234

Manhattanville Campus
615 West 131st.
Tel: (212) 854-1234